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The Myth of the Cultural JewCulture and Law in Jewish Tradition$
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Roberta Rosenthal Kwall

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780195373707

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195373707.001.0001

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The Birth of Jewish Denominations in Modernity and Their Divergent Views on Jewish Law

The Birth of Jewish Denominations in Modernity and Their Divergent Views on Jewish Law

(p.85) 4 The Birth of Jewish Denominations in Modernity and Their Divergent Views on Jewish Law
The Myth of the Cultural Jew

Roberta Rosenthal Kwall

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 grapples with the intractable questions of what is “authentic” Judaism in modernity and who gets to make this determination. It focuses on the European origins of the various modern movements of Judaism and emphasizes their historical development in the United States with particular attention to the post-Holocaust twentieth century. This discussion of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Judaism examines the respective ideologies, histories, and lawmaking processes of these denominations, an approach that is consistent with this book’s thesis that culture and law are inextricably intertwined. This chapter also showcases the divergent views of the movements concerning the development and relevance of halakhah. It concludes with a discussion of the law and culture of postdenominationalism. This chapter sets the stage for the next three chapters that explore specific, highly controversial issues of halakhah through a cultural analysis framework.

Keywords:   Reform Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Orthodox Judaism, Holocaust, Jewish denominations, postdenominationalism, modernity

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